Album art (as it’s supposed to) catches my attention first. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of the phoenix and The Angelus have taken that a step further for me. The cover of their third album, We May Never Die, includes an artistic rendering of a white peacock. I’ve learned the white peacock is a rare species that is linked to the mythology of the phoenix from centuries ago. This review isn’t about the peacock, so I’ll stop here but if you have some spare time, it’s worth doing some quick research.
Well, one last thing. The white peacock represents rebirth, much like the phoenix, and is a symbol for immortality. Humans may not be able to live forever but music can, and few achieve an immortal legacy through their music. Enter The Angelus. They’ve been around for a few short years but have released three albums. Their most recent will be released August 20th through Desert Records. This very album may solidify The Angelus’ immortality and play through whatever devices people have for centuries to come (probably/hopefully still vinyl).
Swelling distortion and thundering drums opens the album with perfection. Immediately grabbing your attention and continuing with a two-minute instrumental titled Honor To Feasts, The Angelus have laid down the foundation on which the remainder of the album builds on.
The building then begins with the catchy riffs of the first song Hex Born. So catchy in fact, you’ll be humming it hours later, I know this from experience because I was doing so at work the other day. The lyrics are not something I comment on often, but Emil Rapstine (guitar/vocals) puts them right out front, and their poetic nature hold your attention. ‘Come lay your head beneath this heavy stone, come carve your given name…’ rings out as the chorus kicks in, providing a dark imagery to the accompanying heavy atmosphere. The track is jam packed with layers of sounds creating unimaginable depth, however, in a recent video on YouTube, Rapstine is seen playing this live with just an electric guitar that left me speechless.
Ode To None continues this theme and further building on that foundation. Again, there is a fullness created by the layered music and each listen allows another aspect of the music to present itself. For example, the subtle angelic choir singing took a few listens for me to pick up on. At 2:21, my favorite riff enters in an abrupt yet pleasing way. Justin Ward (bass) and Justin Evans (drums) come pummeling in behind it, creating a perfect climax in the song.
The track [Hex Born] is jam packed with layers of sounds creating unimaginable depth…
I’ve listened to this album over and over and over again and it’s just astounding. I’m struggling putting words down to match the intensity and emotion. Of Ashen Air is next in the queue, again it’s another fantastic song with interesting riffs and hooks that keeps your focus throughout, which is no easy feat these days. Here’s another highlight of the album for me (there are many), the slower atmospheric introduction to When The Hour Is Right is perfection. It makes me want to pick up my guitar and play just like that, or as close as I can, which is pretty far off! I love the slow build throughout and the sudden change at the 2:12 mark takes the song to new heights.
Another Kind is up next and runs just under four minutes. It’s a catchy song that builds further on that foundation by adding in some psychedelic elements in the middle. It’s a great prelude to possibly my favorite song on the album, although it’s a very very close race. Why We Never Die, the title track, consists of just over seven minutes of jaw dropping greatness. The distorted long ringing notes, carried along by the pounding drums, mesh ever so perfect. Lyrics such as ‘All rise, all take flight again’ are sung slowly allowing the words to really sink in. They certainly have meaning for me, and the beauty of music is everyone perceives it differently, so I’ll let it speak to you, without my influence.
Every album needs a great closer and The Angelus surely deliver with Hustle The Sluggard. The album starts off with an instrumental piece and just like bookends, The Angelus finish in the same way but stronger. In a short 3:39 minutes, the track builds up in intensity quickly and creates the most epic conclusion.
There are many layers to the music with little nuances that can’t truly be appreciated through these frustrating iPhone speakers. I have used headphones, which help, so I can only hope Desert Records release this on vinyl so I can put it on my record player and experience the music, rather than just listen. I’m wishing immortality for The Angelus and having their music ring out for centuries to come.
Scribed by: Josh Schneider